Russian President Dmitry Medvedev: Dear friends!
I am sincerely delighted to see you all here and I heartily congratulate you on the Day of Russia. We have gathered in the Kremlin to observe this public holiday together.
It was conceived at a difficult and heady time, when our country was facing a very important historical choice. And we not only consciously adopted it but survived the difficult years that involved becoming a new, democratic Russia.
The origins of this public holiday are there, in that choice of the Russian people. But its roots go deep into the history of our country and the long-standing desire of our people for freedom and independence, for a national unity conceived in the name of freedom, the civilised development of the country and a better life for its citizens.
It is in the light of this profoundly important historical moment that we understand the Day of Russia today. We respect our glorious past and we shall build our future ourselves. And we shall strive to ensure that this holiday always unites people of different generations, different national cultures, different faiths and all the citizens of Russia.
The Day of Russia is eighteen years old today. That is not a good round figure but it is a very significant age. After all, eighteen years means adulthood, time it took for the new generation of Russia’s citizens to grow up.
These are people who are genuinely confident in themselves and their country. And our young people have already shown that they are ready, not only to maintain all the best things from Russian history, but also to create their own history by building our country.
There is no doubt that in recent years we have created an important foundation for stability and have moved forward with confidence. And now our task is to convert our economic success into social programmes designed to improve the quality of people's lives, to raise the level of their education and health and to stimulate the intellectual and creative growth of each Russian citizen.
Essential steps must be taken along this way to support small businesses, fight corruption and remove excessive administrative barriers. And, of course, the priority work on the development of domestic science, education and culture must continue.
As you know, one of the traditions of today's celebration that has already been established is the presentation of national awards for outstanding achievements in science, the arts and the humanitarian field. Let us once again salute our award winners who are here among us.
I am firmly convinced that the strength of the state resides in its citizens, in their ability and willingness to raise up the country and make it modern, successful and safe, in the ability of people to think freely, work independently and assume responsibility as citizens.
I am confident that everything we want to do can be done. It can be done by Russian society, which by virtue of its own experience knows the value of freedom and the absolute, imperishable value of the individual.
The Day of Russia is our common holiday, one that we celebrate with the millions who inhabit the Russian world, with human beings who have an intimate relationship with our country, with its past, present and future. And of course with our important plans for facing the challenges that will help Russia move forward and assume leading positions.
Once again I warmly congratulate you on this occasion and propose a toast: To the Russian people! To the prosperity of our Motherland!
Congratulations to you all on the Day of Russia!